Now THAT is great writing!

There comes a time when you read something, and know that you have just read a superbly crafted paragraph.

Superb.

Say it again, I dare you.

Su-perb.

I have just read that paragraph, and I hereby share it with you.

From the master of the true essence of Star Wars Role Playing that is Darths & Droids, I bring you;

Always know where the escape pods or life boats or similar such devices are located. This includes biplanes attached to zeppelins. Whenever you board a commercial vessel, scout it out and plan your escape route in case of iceberg, fire, or sahuagin attack. Memorise all paths to the means of escape, so you can follow them in pitch blackness. Even when carrying a cat cage and flamethrower and being chased by an alien carnivore.

Words to live your role playing life by, my friends, with an example that is pure genius. Such a perfect association unleashed with stark brevity!

Truly, words to live by.

Or, in the case of retcons, words to think you lived by while actually condemned with the ultimate horror all unknowing.

That’s right.

The true moral of the story?

We as gamers know what it is.

The player can go through all those procedures, memorize the layouts, practice the routes blindfolded, perform preventive maintenance on the life rafts and even stock the ships with food (and a means of opening the cans, har har), but no matter how hard you try, if the GM is in a bad mood, your character just got impregnated in her sleep by an evil alien between game sessions, and there is not a single damned thing you can do about it.

All you can do is suck it up and reroll with the punches, reroll with the punches.

 

You want to WHAT with WHO?

Last night, at the tail end of one long day, a few members of Team Wanda, Band Of Misfits most progressive raiding team, were chatting in vent.

They had just completed the server first Glory of the Cataclysm Raider earlier, so I thought I’d pop in and say hi and grats in person.

I found them in discussion on whether or not it was possible to four-man the Conclave of Wind.

They apparently do mount runs. A lot.

I was about to head out and go to bed when Shadowson asked me, “You think you’d join us as a tank to five man it?”

Ummm… you know what? It’s been a very long day.

“Sure.”

Let the record show that on this evening, four stalwart, skilled adventurers, brave and true, and one misfit bear boldly entered into the Throne of the Four Winds.

  • Shadowson the Shadow Priest
  • Kissinger the Mage
  • Pumpken the Resto Shaman
  • Randomski the Prot Paladin
  • Bigbearbutt the bacon butted

Yes, it is in fact possible to down the Conclave of Wind with five players. We did it on our second attempt.

We won’t speak of my incredible fail on the first attempt, ‘mkay?

Shadowson healed as Shadow DPS while I tanked on Anshal, Randomski tanked Nezir with Pumpken healing, and Kissinger… well, Kissinger blew up Rohash.

There was much hopping back and forth by Pumpken, Shadowson and Kissinger all trying to do the work of a full raid.

In the end, I felt the thrill of victory over a challenge I didn’t even expect to have put in front of me, a challenge we didn’t even know would be possible or not.

I think that is why it tasted all the sweeter.

Al”Akir, what to say about Al’Akir…

I went as Kitty, and I found out that it is possible to be thrown off the ledge by a tornado, get back up and be dropped in the NEXT tornado, and then again for a third time.

At least my kitty looks cute floating in midair.

Good thing, because I sure as hell spent a lot of time doing it.

Oh, and Al’Akir?

Easier than Conclave of Wind, and just as dead.

What a surprisingly good way to end an otherwise crappy day.

If you happen to be one of the folks that is feeling bored with Looking For Raid, and wondering what in the world there is left to do in the game…

May I humbly suggest you get three of your closest friends and see how much fun clearing older raids might be?

Sure, ICC and Ulduar spring to mind as tasty little targets, but why not see what other kinds of crazyness you can get up to?

The World of Warcraft is your oyster, after all. This is as overpowered as you’re ever going to feel before Mists of Pandaria sweeps away all before it.

Let your mind run riot, man.  What do you have to lose?

My thanks to Shadowson and Team Wanda, for the unlooked-for opportunity to have a little fun.

I Got the Transmogging Blues

I’d like you to say hello to my Rogue.

I am obviously biased, but I happen to think my Rogue looks incredibly badass wearing full Darkmantle gear, especially considering how suddenly rare that look is thanks to Blizzards rather draconian class quest slaughter, and insanely high priced replica Darkmoon gear.

But the awesome look is part of the problem.

When you look that good, a crappy looking weapon stands out like a zombie in the nursery.

The dagger isn’t an issue, I’m not sure I’ve even seen a bad dagger design.

The fist weapon though… blech.

I searched around, found a really nice fist weapon design I thought would look great with the Darkmantle set, the Nexus-Claw.

Nexus-Claw, part of a set of claws released in Burning Crusade that mirrored an awesome but hard-to-get set from Zul’Gurub, is eminently easy to obtain. You simply fly out to Netherstorm in Outlands, visit the exotic weapons dealer at the Consortium area of the Stormspire, and buy them. You don’t even need rep. He only has one of each of the claws at a time (the other one is the Void-Talon), but wait for a day or two, they should return. It’s not like Netherstorm is a hub of activity anymore.

I went out and bought them, and thought myself something of a smarty-pants for getting great looking items without effort. You know, because Darkmantle was so freaking easy to get.

When I went to transmog my main hand weapon, though, the Perforator, I encountered a teeny, weenie little problem.

They are indeed both Fist Weapons.

The problem lies in the fact that the Perforator is a one-hand weapon, and thus can be used in either hand. The Nexus-Claw and Void-Talons are hand specific, main hand and off hand respectively. Or the other way around, whatever.

What I have found is that I can’t transmog my one hand Fist Weapon with the hand specific Fist Weapons.

Son of a bitch.

Do you know how many great looking Fist Weapons there are in the game? And of those, do you know how many old school ones are hand specific?

Just… crap.

In retrospect I understand what the deal is. The one hand Fist Weapons display bilateral symmetry. Most of the hand-specific Fist Weapons do not. Pop the appearance of an Off Hand claw on a Main Hand weapon, and you’ll likely be holding the blade or something, while the handle is waving in the breeze.

I guess if I had given it any thought, I’d have thought that the appearance would mirror over if on an opposite hand.

Clearly, I was wrong. Damnit.

Fine. Be that way.

I’ll just have to go to Badlands and do The Day That Deathwing Came quest to get Theldurin’s Fist.

So there, nyah.

Straight through ’til morning

I was reading the latest Penny Arcade story accompaniments when something Gabe said really struck a chord with me on game design, and why I like some games over others.

Gabe was talking about an upcoming game he is playing called Kingdoms of Amalur, and said;

A big part of the reason I play games is for “new art”. That is the thing more often than not that keeps me progressing. What will the next level or zone look like?

As soon as he said it, I knew it was true for me.

Before I go on about what that sparked in my brain housing group though, I want to say, I never heard of Kingdoms of Amalur before. I HAVE heard of a game that Gabe compared it to… Skyrim. Gabe seemed to think Kingdoms of Amalur had all the lore and exploring depth of Skyrim, but with much more entertaining combat gameplay, and with more beautiful worlds to experience.

Huh.

All I heard talk about a few months ago, at least before SWTOR came out, was “Oh, Skyrim, Skyrim is so awesome, all I want to do is play Skyrim, oh I just want to have Skyrim’s giant-destroying shouty babies.”

To hear Gabe, who I respect, say that he thought Kingdoms of Amalur was more enjoyable than Skyrim made me sit up and take notice.

I saw the trailer for it on Youtube, okay, nice trailer, but I’m not playing a movie, I’m playing a game. Much like cover art, a movie trailer can show you awesomesauce , but reflect nothing of the final gameplay experience. Show me the gameplay.

SHOW ME the gameplay!

Then I found this;

Okay. Huh.

I haven’t said this in years. Actually, I think I haven’t said this in a decade. Maybe I said it for Starcraft II.

I HAVE TO BUY THAT GAME.

Curt Schilling, who I am actually aware of and also respect, is the design studio head behind this? Oh shit, is THIS the game his studio is coming out with?

And wait a minute, WHO is behind the lore? R.A. Salvatore?

Hmmm… I dunno, that could be a plus or a minus. He is the man responsible for giving us Drizzt, after all… and giving everyone that wanted to play an angst-ridden vampire in D&D and wasn’t allowed to the Dark Elf race for a replacement.

What he did by introducing scimitars alone into a medieval setting!

But on the other hand, I did love his writing. At a time when books based in D&D were mostly crap, his brought actual character and personality and placed them above stats, an incredible concept at the time.

As far as Todd McFarlane being behind the art design…

I know this is out of style these days, the cool kids mock Todd McFarlane, but I was a fan of the Spawn art style back in the first 50 issues. The characters I loved were the Medieval Spawn and Angela characters that Neil Gaiman created for Todd McFarlane for the Spawn comics, but the art was all Todd.

Something to remember. Neil Gaiman was responsible for my favorite character designs in Spawn, but the art style was all Todd’s, and as long as he is doing the art style of this game without the lore, that excites me.

Not interests, not intrigues, excites.

I really like what I see in that video.

A game world originally designed to be as huge as an MMO, made into a single player game? Character classes that are organic, growing and changing direction as you place points in different ways in skills that sound cool to you as you level?

Oh, hell yes. Sign my ass RIGHT up.

Everything I love about WoW, but without people.

On second thought, maybe it’s not THAT solid a must have after all.

The Cub Report – Stranglethorn Edition

Another step in the saga that is the continuing tales of Alex, 8 year old WoW adventurer and novice Worgen Feral Druid.

The saga has taken a turn, and I don’t know what to think of it.

There are bonfires, cooking fires and campfires all over the place in lower level zones. Quest givers stand around campfires, Innkeepers stand near burning braziers, there are little flames at building entrances here, there and everywhere.

When you stand in these fires, you get rewarded with a gentle ‘poof’ of smoke from your butt.

There is no other way to say it… my son loves to stand in the fire.

‘poof!’

You ever wonder where those people come from? The ones that just stand in the fire? Now you know. They like to see the gentle poof of smoke coming from their butts.

Alex loves Druid Cat form, running at high speed through the jungle, using Dash for a burst of speed immediately followed by Darkflight to keep that rush of movement going for as long as possible. When he gets the Stampeding Roar talent, he’s going to be buzzing like a ferret on Red Bull. I can see it coming, oh yes I can.

One thing I have learned in playing with Alex and going at his speed is that no matter how excited you are about the next quest, there is always time to stop and notice the small critters and insects that populate a zone… and kill them. Snakes, rabbits, small deer, cows, sheep, roaches, you name it, he kills it. And proudly announces it as a running commentary.

“There’s a snake! I pounced on it, I got it! Oooh, there’s a roach! Got ’em!”

…. okay. I know mommy doesn’t like you to kill critters, but you can kill all the roaches. I grew up in South Florida, I approve. Kill all the roaches. In fact, Blizzard, show me some good old South Florida house lizards, we can kill all those little bastards, too. I’ll make a Mage just to perpetrate a house lizard holocaust.

His favorite critters in the game at the moment are the rats. Or, as the logic train he pointed out to me goes, “cats eat rats, and I’m a cat, so I’m pouncing on my lunch!”

And that brings me to his true, most special love.

Feral Charge.

He started out getting addicted to Skull Bash, which you get at level 22. We’d be hunting Worgen in Darkshire, and he would have me wait while he lined up carefully on the target, inching forward slowly to get within the 13 yard range of Skull Bash so he could fly through the air, pouncing on his prey.

Skull Bash obviously isn’t supposed to be a charge, it’s supposed to be a spell interrupt with a short range leap, it just brings you to your target, that’s all. Alex doesn’t know what mana cost increases and stuff really are, or spell interrupts, or PvP functionality. What he does know is he had a pounce that let him slam into his enemies from a distance. Gotcha!

The 13 yard range ended up causing a little frustration. He didn’t know how to tell if he was in range of the bad guys to use the spell or not.

I didn’t understand the problem at first. On my UI, when I target an opponent, each button indicates if I’m in range for that spell or not by lighting up. I tried to explain this to Alex, only to have him tell me his doesn’t do that.

As I tried wading through the Interface options looking for where his was turned off, Cassie asked me what I was talking about like I was crazy. She uses a mostly default UI, and hers doesn’t put any form of range indicator on her buttons either.

WTF?

It turns out that the XPerl UI Addon I’ve used for, what, five years now or more has it built in, and since I never, ever play the game without XPerl, I took the range indicator on individual buttons for granted. Hell, I thought it was standard for the game, how else do you know not to waste time activating an ability that has a varying range? It’s one thing on flat terrain, but some of the new sloping terrain designs are deceptive, and make accurately estimating distances difficult.

So, I got Alex set up with XPerl. I would have preferred just installing an addon that would put range modifiers on the ability buttons rather than completely revamping his whole UI, but I didn’t know of one. Honestly, this subject never came up for me before. I don’t know how Cassie and other players manage without a constant visual indicator of target range. I guess you’re just that good?

I got XPerl installed on his system, and now Alex knows how to stalk up to his prey in stealth, get just within extreme range and then unleash the leaping kitty Skull Bash thunder! Pow!

He had to use stealth for Skull Bash, because the second cause of frustation was that Skull Bash’s short range meant he could sometimes face pull before using his spell.

Ah, but I had the answer for that. And it came at level 29, when Alex was finally able to spec into Feral Charge.

Feral Charge. Sing me a song of Feral Charge, for Alex is in love with you.

With Feral Charge, Alex has a leaping kitty roaring pounce that puts him behind the target and is useable from stealth, plus he doesn’t have to be as careful with range. It’s got a much longer range than he’s used to, 25 yards, so he can be less focused on range.

Alex now Feral Charges all the things. ALL the things. Mobs, critters, pirates, you name it, he tries to feral charge it.

Last night, I caught him trying to line up on me from extreme range at the rear.

“Alex, you can’t feral charge me. I’m on your side.”

“Awww. You should be able to feral charge people on your own team too!”

“…. yes son, yes you should. Sometimes, I pray for the ability to attack members of our team, Feral Charge them and gank them and gank them and gank them….”

“What?”

“Nothing, nothing. That Crocolisk looks pretty cool. You wanna kill ’em?”

“Yes!” *manuevers in stealth to feral charge the crocolisk*

At level 31, he was able to put a point in Stampede. This to me wasn’t that big a deal. To Alex, this was a VERY BIG DEAL.

I explained to him about the haste buff and the Ravage without positioning/stealth modifier, but it didn’t register until the first time he did a Feral Kitty Charge, and the Ravage button lit up.

“When I leap on them, the Ravage button lights up, and I’m not even in stealth!” Ah, the light in his eyes, the delighted glee at free mayhem. Having one of his stealth-only abilities, which must mean it’s special, available after a charge is like icing on an already delicious cake.

Then I paid closer attention to what he was saying.

He wasn’t saying “leap”.

He wasn’t saying “Feral Charge”.

No, when he was using Feral Charge to attack the enemies, ALL the enemies, what he was doing was singing a little song he made up on the spot, and sang over and over as only an 8 year old can;

“Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, they don’t call it head buttin’ for nothin’. Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, my head to his butt, POUNCE!”

At that point, I just grabbed a notebook and put it next to my keyboard. Gotta be ready to write this shit down.

Good thing I did. Not two minutes later, as we raced through the Stranglethorn Tigers (that we vastly outlevel) to grab our last two, Alex calls out, “I’ll get the one behind you so he doesn’t attack your tushie!”

Ah yes. Even on a Dwarf Shaman, my butt makes for a tasty target.

Butt protection, isn’t that what everyone wants from their adventuring companions?

Who Will Be The Next Great Blogger?

Who will be the next great blogger?

I have no idea, and I ain’t running a competition. I think I just watch too many cooking competition shows.

What I would like is some link love.

But not YOUR link, or mine.

Lemme’ splain.

Do you know a really good writer, someone who is blogging but hasn’t had much exposure yet? They are your little secret, and you wish more people knew about them because they’re so awesome, but it can be hard to be noticed by WoW Insider or MMO Melting Pot?

Well, I’m not big time, but I’d like to know about them too!

So, what I’m asking you to do is to please leave a comment here recommending someone else’s awesome blog for me to read.

I’ll read them all, I assure you, and I will add those with feeds to my private feedreader.

Those that I really, personally like and are WoW related may even make the move from my private feedreader to my permanent WoW Blogroll on the site. Those that ain’t WoW related will stay hidden, while I lurk unseen, reading and enjoying. Muahahaha!

**For those who are not aware, I have a widget on my website that allows me to link a folder on my Google Reader feedlist to the blog, only showing those blogs I place in the special folder. So, the blogroll does not represent EVERY feed I follow, just the ones I think other readers may find as awesome and relevant to WoW as I do. If you do not see your blog on the blogroll, it doesn’t actually mean I don’t read your blog. 🙂

In other news, I almost won a Piggie Award! Thank you very much to Hugh and the MMO Melting Pot for the kind words, and for thinking my writing is even worth considering. It’s much appreciated, it really is. Great congratulations have to go to Melmoth of Killed in a Smiling Accident for the win. If you’re going to lose to someone, it’s nice that it be to such a wonderful writer.

Mogging Screenies!

I was reading a post by the WoW Noob today, and I liked her screenshots of what choices she’d made so much that I wanted to post my own current stylish fashinista statements too.

Whereas she’s going with truly custom, non-set looks, I kinda went the other way. Yes, it was less imaginative, but I like the looks I’m sporting. 🙂

First, my Druid. I love the look of my Druid, I really do.

I love the Sporeggar tabard, hair and gear color blending. Plus, shrooms! Considering I like to try to make everyone’s life a little more surreal, I think a mushroom makes for a great icon.

Next, my Hunter.

Yes, I am proud of having almost gotten 100% of the Firelands tier. I’m just missing the shoulders, and the ones I’m sporting actually blend in pretty well. And I am enjoying an embarrassment of riches, having both the staff AND the bow from Dragon Soul LFR. I’m not sorry.

After that must come the infamous Arms Warrior, sporting the very latest in OMG WTF is THAT?

I did subtle on my Druid, I did raiding on my Hunter, but for my Warrior I went for making a bold, offensive eye-searing statement.

And that statement is, “This dude is color blind.”

Finally, my Paladin.

My Paladin is still leveling, but withe very upgrade I’ve had since early 70s I dutifully go and mog it. I may not be able to sport the full Field Marshall PVP set, but this still achieves the look and feel I was hoping for. Plus, this character actually looks the way I feel. Old and cranky. 🙂

If you have screenshots of your own looks, by all means, shoot me a link in the comments to whatever site hosts them, or blog post you made with them. I’d love to see what you actually wear around Azeroth!

If you’re doing SW:TOR instead of WoW these days, you’re not left out… if you’ve got a screenshot of your favorite character looking badass, link that too!

SOPA and PIPA

I have been asked to share my thoughts on the SOPA and PIPA issues, and so I shall. But only because I was asked to.

I will share with you what I have told my district representative and both senators who represent the state of Minnesota within which I reside, and what I partially posted as a comment on the petition I signed to stop the ESA from standing as spokespeople for the gaming industry while supporting the SOPA and PIPA, by banning one of their largest sources of revenue, E3.

As a former US Marine who has served this country and the freedom she represents, I view the SOPA and PIPA legislation as nothing less than a direct threat to that freedom of speech and personal expression upon which this country was founded. I expect my elected representatives to hold the interests of the citizens of this country above that of business interests, no matter how well funded or represented by lobbyists, and I will vehemently oppose any politician or organization that seeks to strip from me those freedoms which I do NOT take for granted, but instead consider part of the legacy that I have inherited as a citizen of this country, a legacy to which I have had the honor to help preserve.

I encourage each of you to contact your own state representatives and senators, and make your own feelings on this issue clear. Your individual words to them may not matter, but you can rest assured that your email will be counted on a spreadsheet list as one of X number of registered voters who have contacted that representative upon that date to state your opposition.

Politicians may ignore what you say you want as an individual, but when it is made clear that the sheer quantity of people willing to throw off their lethargy and send an email threatens their majority for the next re-election campaign, they take notice. At that point, it is in their own self-interest to pay attention.

We can only hope that their desire for re-election outweighs the ‘contributions’ large corporations and special interests are making to pay them off.

Oh wait, did I say that out loud?

How Do They Rise Up?

Topic of the day; Looking For Raid and new game opportunities.

The one area where I think LFR has succeeded the most is in opening up the world of large group raiding to those of us that could never be part of an organized raid group before.

It goes beyond taking raids and making them accessible to people.

I see a lot of discussion, mostly from people who were already raiders, about how the existence of LFR has affected their gameplay, dumbed it down, cheapened it, how it’s not really raiding.

Well, I say “get over yourself” to that, but let’s not forget the effect the LFR has on the rest of us.

How many people out there aren’t in raiding guilds? How many are in guilds with raid teams, but have never been part of the raid groups?

There are still a lot of friends and family guilds in this game, guilds that may not even have ten or more players. Guilds that would like to raid but suffer with too few numbers and too high standards, groups of people that insist on playing with friends and if they don’t have enough to form a raid without inviting strangers or potential asshats into their social atmosphere, just don’t?

How many people out there playing World of Warcraft have never had the opportunity to see what a big raid is like live?

Let’s take a step further back.

How many people out there have never taken part in a large group raid before, because they were afraid of screwing up in front of 9 or 24 other people while trying to get their UI adjusted, addons lined up, and marks/focus/assist/roles/assignments all figured out on the fly while everyone else in the raid is popping green for the ready check on the screen?

It’s not about being able to play your class, understanding your abilities or having addons enabled. You can know how to play your character extremely well in five person groups, and you can have Deadly Boss Mods and Omen and other raiding addons, but there is a lot to setting up a raid UI, or at least understanding what components go into a raid UI and which you need, what they do, and whether you can safely ignore them.

How often in the normal course of the game do you have to know what an assist is? Do you even know what the interface menu options for turning on “attack on assist” mean? What about role settings, and assignments, and knowing who is supposed to heal what, and how to organize it right?

What are all those extra tank and off-tank blocks in VuhDo for, and when should I use them? Who is my assist target, and what the hell does that really mean? Who do I focus on, or do I even focus on anyone for what we’re about to do? Am I shackling anything? Will I need tranq shot on my bar, and how will I know when to use it, or will I be told? 

If you are invited to a real raid for the very first time, especially with people whose opinions you value, what do you do if you are afraid you’ll end up screwing up, wiping the raid, and disappointing everyone when you’re trying to figure all this crap out?

Looking For Raid has done more than just open things up. It’s allowed people who could never get their schedule lined up to join a raid team before an opportunity to go in and do a raid, a real 25 person raid, and experience what it is like.

You can say whatever you want about EZ modes, getting carried, streamlined content, and how LFR isn’t a ‘real’ raid.

LFR has adds, bosses, various mechanics, 25 people, all the traditional roles, and lots of flashing lights and raid warnings and DBM updates and threat indicators and all that stuff going on. It is a raid in everything except the crushing likelihood of failure if you screw up just once with your timing on one thing.

Or, as Shadowson likes to say when someone starts a “This LFR group sucks so bad on this boss” story;

“But did the boss get killed?”

Why, yes, yes it did. No matter how sucky the group was, yes, eventually we get the boss down anyway.

In LFR you will not get guidance in how to play your class, you will not get kindly advice unless something really strange happens, and you WILL see players at their worst. But you will also get a chance to test your abilities, become a part of a raid team and see what works and what doesn’t in a live test bed without screwing over your friends.

If nothing else is remembered about LFR in the months to come, I hope this one thing is.

LFR has given everyone an opportunity to gain experience in raiding 25 person content. Everyone. People who never were able to raid before can now do so, and gain valuable experience and confidence that will serve them very well.

In the future, if these people are invited to step into a raid that needs one more person, they can do so knowing that yes, the mechanics will be different, and yes things will require tighter timing and coordination. But they will also know that they have learned to cope and excel in an environment where people don’t communicate shit, do weird ass things, try to fail intentionally, and went on to win anyhow.

LFR. If you can learn to raid without getting pissed at stupid asshats here, if you can keep your head, buckle down and be the person that carries the morons here, then you can raid with an actual GOOD team anywhere.

What I hope to see are people who used to hold raiders in awe stepping into LFR themselves, getting their raid on and seeing what it’s like, finding out how good they really are once they have the opportunity to try and apply themselves, gaining confidence and coming out with their own blogs to share how much fun they’re having and how they made it work.

 When Mists of Pandaria does come out, we are going to see the largest community of seasoned and experienced 25 person raiders WoW has ever witnessed come together, all having had their taste of raiding and wanting more. Here’s hoping Blizzard understands what they’ve set in motion, and bring the raiding goodness.

If they’re smart, they’re getting ready to make good on their promise to bring smaller content updates on a more frequent basis to feed the LFR beast. Clearly, there is a HUGE market for it.

Bearwall alert and grumpy bear soapbox from hell

I knew it was bound to happen someday, and now it finally has.

Besides this being a Bearwall, that is.

I feel disconnected from what everyone else is talking about when it comes to WoW.

I read blog posts, WoW forum comments and blue responses, and I swear I don’t know what game some of these folks are talking about. What happened? Where the hell did I go, and what did I miss?

When I read blogs and forum comments, the narrative these days seems to be, “People in randoms suck and that makes them unplayable and it’s Blizzards fault, we beat LFR and thus the game, now there is nothing to do and it’s Blizzards fault, I got the best gear I can from LFR and valor so there is no point to playing anymore and it’s Blizzards fault, the game is boring to level an alt through again for the thirtieth time and it’s Blizzards fault, everyone hates pandas and thinks the lore of Pandaren is stupid so the next expansion is worthless crap and the death of WoW, Blizzard jumped the shark, game over man, game over.”

Apparently I missed the memo, spilled my cup of kool-aid, or don’t follow media reports closely enough to have been brainwashed into buying the narrative.

Silly me, I’ve been logging in and playing every night, and I have been SO busy with SO many things to do I am literally unable to do everything I’d like. There is just no time. I have to prioritize my fun to aim at the things I really want to do that I think will be MOST fun, and walk away from the game each night knowing I left some fun back there on the table. “If I’d just stayed up later, if maybe I only really needed 4 hours of sleep, maybe I could have taken home more of the fun last night.”

Why is it that so much of the discussion out there is about how dead the game is? I don’t even PvP, I haven’t done anything in the new Darkmoon Faire, and still there is just too much.

If a few people feel the game is dead, hey, I am truly sorry your game experience sucks. Paying money on a monthly basis to stare at the walls of Orgrimmar really would suck.  

But that’s not what I’m reading out there. I’m not reading a few individual people saying, “I feel like things are boring and dead”, I’m reading people making sweeping blanket statements like, “Everyone feels the game is dead, there is nothing to do, Blizzard you should…”

Here’s my take on the narrative. And when I say this, I am speaking MY opinion, and ONLY mine. YOUR EXPERIENCE MAY VARY, AND I DO NOT PRESUME TO SPEAK FOR YOU.

First, the “Pandas are Jumping the Shark” thing.

Pandas are WoW jumping the shark? Mists of Pandaria is fail, stupid, whatever?

Two words; Space Goats.

If you can really tell me with a straight face that disco-dancing space goats fleeing a demon horde across the endless dark, then crashing their spaceship city into a world was all fine and dandy, and a world breaking apart from the power of demonic forces but still retaining atmosphere and maintaining a self-sustaining ecosystem is spiffy, but martial arts pandas bringing balance to the force make you choke on your lore, I’ve got a face in a palm I’d like to show you.

What I’m saying is, that shark was jumped a long time ago. The Fonz jumped the shark while being pulled on his skies by a flying gnome-engineered helicopter.

What you have to do is get over it, and roll with it. If you didn’t quit then, why the hell would you quit now? The game is awesome anyway. Many whelps. Left Side. Handle it.

Second, the “WoW is boring, there is nothing to do” thing.

We’ve been over this ground before. Every period between content releases, we have this same discussion. And why?

Because there IS a period between content releases.

Until that far off distant day when new content is created as fast as or faster than it can be played through, there will always be times when new content was added, we played what parts of it we were interested in, and then wondered what to do until more new content.

Me, I suggest trying some other fine multiplayer game, such as Alpha Hex, when you are bored with the game you’re in.  

Would the lack of fresh monthly content even be an issue if folks didn’t pay a monthly fee, and thus felt entitled to a full months worth of fresh content every time their bank got tapped? I dunno, I don’t play any free-to-play games to have a perspective. Personally, I look at the game as being a real world that exists, floating in an alternate dimension, and I pay a monthly fee to visit, much like having to keep my passport up to date, but without the intrusive anal probes at customs.

My point is not to say that we should not get new content, or even to say that we are or are not getting new content at a satisfactory rate.

My point is that everybody is going to experience that content at a different rate based on their own available time to play the game, what parts of the game they are interested in, and how many friends they have to play with to serve as a force multiplier. it’s kinda hard to judge just how often is “often enough”.

To put this in a different perspective, I know a few folks that are upset at the quantity of new content we just got. It’s too much. They feel guilt at not doing everything that got released, but they don’t have the time. No, I’m not talking about me. 🙂

They feel like they SHOULD be doing all this new stuff like Darkmoon Faire and the LFR that came out, but they just don’t have time. This makes them feel bad, that they are being left behind, and I’ve heard it said they wish the content had been spread out over a few months instead of dumped all at once. 

And then there is the other side of the coin.

Just this last week someone in my guild logged in (cough, Dipro, cough) and complained about how bored they were and how there was nothing to do, and how Blizzard needs to release new raids right now, the game is boring and the new raids are boring and suck ass. 

Someone else replied that the Dragon Soul raid was almost brand new, and Dipro responded by saying “You run DS every week on LFR with four characters and tell me how fun that shit is. Blizzard needs to release a new raid.”

Really? Yes, really.

I try and give people the benefit of the doubt, but if someone runs a full 8 boss raid clear not once a week, not twice, but FOUR TIMES, and not just some weeks but every single week, then whose fault is it again if they burn out?

Blizzards, apparently, for not preventing him from being able to play too much, too fast.

Congratulations, we now have a classic example of where ideas like gating raids through quest chains and reputation grinds come from. Why? Because people either won’t or can’t take personal responsibility for living online, playing 24/7, and burning through the content in two weeks. If you want to do it, then fine by me, but where do you get off blaming Blizzard for it?

And as long as we’re talking about personal responsibility….

Finally, the biggest issue. Asshats in raids ruin the game.

I’m going to say it. This isn’t a “there are asshats in the game, Blizzard should get rid of them” issue.

This may surprise you, but the reason there are asshats in the game is that in the real world, there are a lot of people who are asshats. That is who they really are. They are asshats. They wear a hat on their ass, I can’t put it any plainer than that.

Or, as I used to say, “there are a lot of people who are alive in this world for no other reason than that it’s illegal to kill them.”

What many people don’t seem to grasp is how many asshats there are out there in the real world.

Most of the time, in the real world the asshats act like everyone else. Thank god they DO seem to be in the minority, so they hide who they really are by default in public. They do so because they get benefits out of being thought to be nice, or honest, or trustworthy, or mature, or dependable.

It all comes down to what is considered acceptable. If asshat behavior is acceptable, then asshats come out publicly. If it isn’t acceptable, then they hide, and feel other people out carefully to try and find other asshats in hiding that they can form a clique with.

In most modern companies, asshat behavior is written into employee manuals as unacceptable. Enough big companies have been sued successfully for toxic work envinronments that they have learned there is a monetary cost to allowing asshat behavior to run unchecked. If you act like an asshat you get written up, reprimanded, denied pay raises for not being a team player, lose out on promotion prospects, or get fired. Or sued for harassment or discrimination. Or get promoted to branch manager, if the culture approves of asshats and hasn’t been sued yet.

Why are there laws allowing for the sueing of a company based on a toxic work environment or for other issues dealing with respect and fair treatment? I feel, again, it’s because the asshats are in the minority. This is my own opinion, after all, you’re more than welcome to disagree. 

In most social groups, if you act like an asshat, people won’t hang out with you, you won’t get dates, at least until you find enough other asshats to form your own social group. And thus, the fraternity was born.  

Asshats tend to pretend to be what they are not, because as I said before, I truly believe most people are not asshats, and so the asshat minority hides what they really are so they can be accepted into the larger group and get what they want from others. If there is nothing they want from the other people around them, and there is no chance in their opinion that word of their behavior will get back to whoever they DO want things from, then they just act like an asshat, and say things like “I do what I want and to hell with what other people think”.

It really is all about what is acceptable. You want your guild to grow asshats like mushrooms after the rain? Asshats always make little ‘off-color’ remarks, are looking for other asshats to bond with, and so they feel other people out looking for other asshats in disguise. If they make overtures of asshattery in the guild chat channel that are received with approval instead of disgust, it gets a little bit more accepted in your guild. Other asshats in disguise may see that guy get away with it or be joked with, and feel it’s okay for them to come out a little as well. It spreads, it grows, it becomes accepted as part of the culture.

If that is who the majority of the guild people are, well, shit happens. But if not, then those who hate asshattery better be prepared to shut down that kind of behavior before it grows. I know I don’t want to play where asshat behavior is an accepted part of the team dynamic.

If asshattery become an accepted part of the guild culture, then when a non-asshat enters the environment, boom. Welcome to a toxic environment to be in, and you’ll lose the nice people fast. 

Am I talking about the real world, or the game world? Both. This all happens in the real world as well as WoW. Every day. And every different situation and environment you enter has the same underlying social dynamics going on. It’s just more obvious in WoW, where there are more opportunities to act without repercussions or long term consequences. Get too much of a reputation, get too many people friending you to track your name changes, and you can just make a new character or server transfer. In the real world, when people burn too many bridges they pick up stakes and move to a new town or state, job hop, switch regular bars or hangout places, whatever it takes to leave the consequences of their behavior behind.

For the purpose of this discussion, I’m lumping racists, sexists, jackasses, homophobes and all the other crap into one term; asshat.

When you come into World of Warcraft, all those same asshats are in the game. The game did not create them, it did not train them, they were not nice people until the game turned them into asshats. Asshat is their true inner person, their default state of being. They are only pretending to be nice to get what they want.

If they can get what they want AND act like an asshat, it is utopia. I have no idea what a guild formed solely of asshats would be like, but then again, I’ve never been in a fraternity, either. But hey, they don’t need a guild… they have LFD and LFR!

All those asshats, hiding behind their masks in front of their guilds… you get them on a cross server random BG or raid, surrounded by strangers, and let them loose. What happens?

You get people say all sorts of trash talking, people rolling Need on everything they can. Intentionally kill the Corruption tentacles to wipe Spine of Deathwing, again and again. Intentionally start encounters before they can be kicked, or before a full group can form. Pull oozes while people are still zoning in. Go afk in the middle of a fight, so if the group wins they got carried, roll need and leave with a sneer. Run addons that spam meters and spell activations until you can’t see actual text buried in the scroll going by.

LFD and LFR do not create asshats. Blizzard does not create asshats. They were there before, and the sudden lack of peer pressure and accountability encourages them to be themselves. The anonymity of LFD and now LFR did not create asshats, it just provided an opportunity.

I applaud every effort Blizzard makes to try and isolate asshats from affecting other players. The problem is, the convenience of LFR and LFD is just too damn sweet. For all our bitching about how LFR and LFD kill off server based communities, the fact is we all love the convenience of forming groups that don’t take all night sitting in one sitting spamming trade chat. We all hate the asshats and the lack of a reputation-based community policing itself and stifling the unchecked asshat behavior in our groups, but we also want fast groups.

This is all my opinion, based on what I’ve observed in my life and what I really think about asshats in the real world and in WoW. I don’t honestly know how Blizzard can be held responsible for blocking the ability of asshats from being in the game, without accepting that part of the responsibility has to be ours to shut down asshat behavior in our own day to day lives, and make it clear that asshat behavior is never acceptable.

No matter what, though, ignore works, and the majority of people I meet in game are not asshats. With the anonymity the game provides, the very fact that the majority of players I meet are NOT asshats fills me with hope, and a good bit of joy as well.

I joke about being a grumpy old bear sitting on my lawn yelling at the kids running by, but damn, talk about living the dream.